Monsanto on Wednesday reported wider losses for its fiscal fourth quarter and said it was cutting 2,600 jobs and restructuring operations to combat a slumping commodity market.
The St. Louis company said part of the restructuring would entail “streamlining and reprioritizing” some commercial and research and development efforts, including exiting the sugarcane business.
The actions should result in annual savings of $275 million to $300 million by the end of fiscal 2017. Monsanto plans to reduce operating spending by another $100 million, bringing total annual savings to as much as $400 million.
“As we look to 2016, focus and discipline become increasingly important,” Monsanto’s CEO Hugh Grant said in a news release. “We will continue to focus on executing on key milestones within our core seeds and traits business, and we plan to remain disciplined in our agricultural productivity strategy, drive further optimization in spend through strategic restructuring actions and accelerate our progress toward our targeted capital structure.”
Monsanto’s predicted earnings per share $5.10 to $5.60 for its new fiscal year, well below many analysts’ expectations of more than $6, according to Reuters.
Still, Grant expressed confidence that the company was still on target to double fiscal 2014 earnings per share, excluding special items, by 2019.
For the latest quarter, Monsanto lost $495 million, or $1.06 a share, compared to a loss of $156 million, or 31 cents a share, in the fiscal fourth quarter of 2014. Excluding certain items, the company’s per-share loss was 19 cents, compared with 27 cents. Revenue fell 10% to $2.36 billion.
Analysts projected a loss of 2 cents a share on sales of $2.77 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.
“Seed companies such as Monsanto, alongside suppliers of fertilizer and farm machinery, face a third straight year of sagging prices for corn, soybeans, and wheat that have forced belt-tightening across major agricultural regions,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
To try to boost investor confidence, the company also announced a $3 billion accelerated share repurchase program that Grant said would be completed in the next six months.